In his introduction to this surprisingly powerful book, Tim Lynch writes that “any attempt to challenge received wisdom will inevitably be criticised by some as ‘rewriting history’, although those who condemn ‘revisionist’ history seem at a loss to explain why history must be carved in stone and why new information should be ignored.” Tim Lynch certainly sets himself up for such criticism in this frank, and no doubt to some, painful investigation into one aspect of what has become one of the most celebrated actions of Operation Market Garden – the crossing of the River Waal.
After each major naval or combined operation of the Second World War the Admiralty published a ‘Battle Summary’ which provided a thorough and highly detailed description of the entire operation. The objectives of the summaries were to inform selected individuals of the successes and failures highlighted in the action so that lessons could be learnt for future operations. Access to the summaries was, therefore, restricted at the time and distributed only to selected individuals.
Though the Battle Summaries have been available to the general public through the National Archives for some years, the production of Hunting Tirpitz marks the first time that any of these documents have been published in their entirety.
Following the outbreak of the Second World War, His Exalted Highness the Nizam of Hyderbad paid for a squadron of eighteen Spitfires. At £5,000 each, this represented the sum of £90,000 – a considerable amount in 1939. The squadron badge was the Nizam’s headdress but its aircraft were painted with the image of a large black cat leaping over an RAF roundel on the port side. The Black Panthers were born.
As someone who has spent a considerable time walking battlefields around the UK and much further afield, I know only too well the value of good guide books. In the main, the Pen and Sword Battleground series is very good, and this latest publication, Walking D-Day, maintains that high standard.
Walking D-Day is a little larger than most of the books in the series and it covers a lot of ground, both figuratively and geographically. Unlike others which deal exclusively with specific locations relating to the Normandy invasion, such as Pegasus Bridge, Merville Battery and the individual invasion beaches, Paul Reed’s book attempts to guide us across the entire Normandy battlefield. So, as well as detailing walks along the sites mentioned above, including Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha and Utah beaches, the book also takes us round locations such as Arromanches and the Mulberry harbour, Pointe du Hoc and Ste-Mère-Eglise.